Learn more about us and about the details of hospice care
Some of your Questions:
- What is hospice?
- What does hospice provide?
- When should a decision about receiving care from Altus be made - and who should make it?
- May I still use my regular doctor?
- What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?
- Will I still be able to make my own decisions regarding my care?
- Will my advance directives be honored by Altus?
- What does the Altus admission process involve?
- Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
- What will happen if I outlive my prognosis?
- What specific assistance does Altus provide home-based patients?
- Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before Altus begins providing care?
- How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?
- Must someone be with the patient at all times?
- Is caring for the patient at home the only place Altus can deliver care?
- How does Altus "manage pain"?
- What is Altus's success rate in battling pain?
- Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?
- Is Altus affiliated with any religious organization?
- Does Altus provide any help to the family after a patient passes away?
- Who pays for Altus’s services?
- Do you accept donations?
Additional information from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
Please also visit the NHPCO website for additional hospice-related information.
Q. What is hospice?
Hospice care is a Medicare benefit that provides comfort and pain management for anyone with a six-month prognosis. Care will be provided as long as the patient remains eligible.
Q. What does hospice provide?
Hospice care includes a complement of benefits for eligible patients, related to the diagnosis including clinical services, durable medical equipment (like a bed or wheelchair), medical supplies (like wound care), and medications. The clinical services involves our physicians, nurses, home health aides, medical social workers and chaplains. We also have volunteers available to provide additional support.
Q. When should a decision about receiving care from Altus be made - and who should make it?
At any time during a life-limiting illness, it's appropriate to discuss all of a patient's care options, including hospice. By law the decision belongs to the patient or their designated proxy. Understandably, most people are uncomfortable with the idea of stopping aggressive efforts to "beat" the disease. Altus staff members are highly sensitive to these concerns and always available to discuss them with patients and families.
Q. May I still use my regular doctor?
Your primary care physician continues to be an integral part of your care. Our team collaborates and communicates with your MD while you receive care from Altus. Our team continues to communicate with your primary care physician while you receive our care.
Q. What if our physician doesn't know about hospice?
Most physicians know about hospice. Patients and families should feel free to discuss hospice care at any time with their physician, other health care professionals, clergy or friends. If your physician wants more information about hospice, it is available from the National Council of Hospice Professionals Physician Section, medical societies, state hospice organizations, or the National Hospice Helpline, 1-800-658-8898. In addition, physicians and all others can also obtain information on hospice from the American Cancer Society, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the Social Security Administration.
Q. Will I still be able to make my own decisions regarding my care?
Yes, you and your family are in charge of your care.
Q. Will my advance directives be honored by Altus?
Yes, it is your right to choose your advance directives. We do not require a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, and we will review all options with you.
Q. What does the Altus admission process involve?
One of the first things Altus will do is contact the patient's physician to make sure he or she agrees that hospice care is appropriate for this patient at this time. (Altus has medical staff available to help patients who have no physician.) The patient will be asked to sign consent and insurance forms. These are similar to the forms patients sign when they enter a hospital. The "hospice election form" states that the patient understands that the care is palliative (aimed at pain relief and symptom control) rather than curative. It also outlines the services available. The form Medicare patients sign also tells how electing the Medicare hospice benefit affects other Medicare coverage.
Q. Can a hospice patient who shows signs of recovery be returned to regular medical treatment?
Certainly. If the patient's condition improves and the illness seems to be in remission, patients can be discharged from Altus and return to aggressive therapy or go on about their daily life. If the discharged patient should later need to return to hospice care, Medicare and other insurers will allow coverage for this purpose.
Q. What will happen if I outlive my prognosis?
We continue to provide the same care for you as long as you remain eligible for Altus’s services. You will not be given less service regardless of how long you are in our care, and Altus will never charge you for our care. Some people live longer than their original prognosis once their pain and symptoms are under control.
Q. What specific assistance does Altus provide home-based patients?
Just like patients who reside at a facility, home-based patients are cared for by a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors, certified nursing assistants, clergy, therapists, and volunteers - and each provides assistance based on his or her own area of expertise. In addition, Altus provides medications, supplies, equipment, and hospital services related to the life-limiting illness.
Q. Is there any special equipment or changes I have to make in my home before Altus begins providing care?
Altus will assess your needs, recommend any equipment, and help make arrangements to obtain any necessary equipment. Often the need for equipment is minimal at first and increases as the illness progresses. In general Altus will assist in any way it can to make home care as convenient, clean and safe as possible.
Q. How many family members or friends does it take to care for a patient at home?
There's no set number. One of the first things Altus will do is to prepare an individualized care plan that will, among other things, address the amount of caregiving needed by the patient. Altus staff visit regularly and are always accessible to answer medical questions, provide support, and teach caregivers.
Q. Must someone be with the patient at all times?
In the early weeks of care, it's usually not necessary for someone to be with the patient all the time. Later, however, since one of the most common fears of patients is the fear of dying alone, Altus generally recommends someone be there continuously. While family and friends do deliver most of the care, Altus provides volunteers to assist with errands and to provide a break and time away for primary caregivers. While no one from Altus will move into your home, we will work with you to establish a frequency of visits from your Altus team members that meets your unique needs.
Q. Is caring for the patient at home the only place Altus can deliver care?
No. Altus provides care wherever a patient calls home, be it a private residence, nursing home, assisted living facility, hospital, retirement community, hotel, etc.
Q. How does Altus "manage pain"?
Altus believes in the concept of ‘total pain' as defined by Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement. This concept recognizes that pain is not simply physical, but also encompasses social, spiritual, and psychological aspects. As such, our entire team addresses these aspects that may be affecting a patient's comfort. Our doctors and nurses are up-to-date on the latest medications and treatment modalities used for pain and symptom relief. Our social workers, chaplains, and counselors attend to the non-physical causes of pain and suffering.
Q. What is Altus's success rate in battling pain?
Very high. Using some combination of medications, counseling and therapies, almost every patient can attain a level of comfort that is acceptable to them.
Q. Will medications prevent the patient from being able to talk or know what's happening?
Usually not. It is the goal of Altus to have the patient as pain-free and alert as possible. By constantly consulting with the patient, Altus has been very successful in reaching this goal.
Q. Is Altus affiliated with any religious organization?
No. While some churches and religious groups have started their own hospices, our hospice serves a broad community and does not require patients to adhere to, nor do we promote, any particular set of beliefs.
Q. Does Altus provide any help to the family after a patient passes away?
Altus provides continuing contact and support for caregivers for at least a year following the death of a loved one. Altus sponsors bereavement groups and support for anyone in the community who has experienced a death of a family member, a friend, or similar losses.
Q. Who pays for Altus’s services?
You pay nothing…ever. Altus’s care is fully covered under Medicare, Medicaid, and many commercial insurance benefits. We do not charge you any out-of-pocket expenses for your care, such as deductibles, co-pays, or co-insurance. We pay for 100% of your care, including all of your medications, medical equipment and supplies related to the illness we are treating. We also strive to provide our services free of charge to patients and families that have no health insurance or other financial resources.
Q. Do you accept donations?
We do NOT require donations to support the services we provide directly. We ask that you consider donating to the Community Hospices of America Foundation to support programs such as:
- Last Wishes
- Groceries and Utilities Bills for Families in Need
- Clinical needs unrelated to hospice services
- Public Education
You may mail donations to our office and we will forward those donations directly to the Community Hospices of America Foundation. You may also contribute donations directly to the Community Hospices of America Foundation by visiting www.chafoundation.org/contributeonline. When contributing, please indicate Altus Hospice so that these funds can be applied to our patients and their families. The Community Hospices of America Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation managed by a volunteer Board of Directors. All donations will be acknowledged by the Foundation and are 100% tax deductible. The Foundation notifies families and caregivers of memorial gifts.